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A court in Thane,  Maharashtra  has  issued summons to Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury to appear before it on April 30 on a petition by the RSS which claims to have been defamed by allegedly linking it to the 2017 killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh’s in Bengaluru.

The civil defamation case, seeking a token compensation of Rs 1 from Gandhi and Yechuri, was filed by a RSS activist Vivek Champanerkar who has claimed the duo “defamed” the RSS by linking it to the killing of Lankesh.

Civil Judge JS Bhatia, who is hearing the case, ordered issuance of summonses to Gandhi and Yechury asking them to appear in the court. The summonses are returnable on April 30.

In his prayer to the court, Champanerkar said Gandhi and Yechury are in the habit of blaming the RSS for any act of violence and this needs to be stopped. He urged the court to direct them to stop linking the RSS with such incidents.

Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017, allegedly by the members of a right-wing extremist group.

A Mumbai metropolitan magistrate’s court is also hearing a criminal defamation case against Gandhi and Yechury, filed by another RSS activist over the same issue. In the criminal defamation case, complainant Dhrutiman Joshi, an RSS worker and lawyer, has cited some purported remarks made by Gandhi and Yechury against the RSS after the killing of Lankesh, a strong Hindutva critic.

“Statements made by the accused and their respective political parties are in utmost sense defamatory and belittle the RSS in the eyes of common public. There was a definite move by the accused to tarnish the image of the RSS without citing any proof,” Joshi had said in his complaint.

–India Legal Bureau

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